Traveling today is one of the most trending activity. And when you say travel and bucket list, Japan will always be on top of it, since Japan’s tourism is still the best in Asia.
Japan offers a different experience. Its rich culture, tradition, and history captivated everybody’s heart. Japan is attracting millions of foreign tourists from all over the world.
When you say Japan, what’s the first thing that pops in your head? You got it right, sushi, the beauty of Sakura, Anime Manga, Samurai, Katana.and yes also Ninja.
In this article, we will be discussing the top must-see legendary Samurai locations in Japan, as well as how these locations captured the hearts of the tourists.
Are you a Samurai enthusiast? This article is perfect for you.
Top 6: Engyoji Temple of Mt. Shosha
Have you ever seen the Hollywood movie “The Last Samurai”? It’s an epic drama set in Japan during the Meiji Restoration in 19th Century portrayed by the American actor Tom Cruise in 2003.
If the answer is yes, then welcome to the Engyoji Temple of Mt. Sosha founded by Shoku, a holy priest. It is a majestic location with over 1000 years of history. This popular tourist destination is one of the must-go-to places in Japan. Especially for Samurai enthusiasts!
Engyoji temple offers a zen feeling away from the hustle of city life. Its picturesque view will definitely capture the hearts of many. But, make sure to wear your most comfortable clothes and shoes. Because this majestic journey will need you to take at least an hour of hiking.
Even to this day, many people still make pilgrimages to this temple. If you’re lucky, you will get to see monks, and groups of people meditating!
Top 5: Historic Sekigahara Battleground
For history lovers, the Sekigahara battlefield location is the place for you. If you wanna relive the past, and imagine how this battle took place, this site should be on top of your bucket list.
The battle of Sekigahara is the biggest and bloodiest Samurai battle in Japan. In just 6 hours, 30,000 Samurai lost their lives. This battle proved to have great relevance to Japan’s history. With over 180,000 Samurai fought one another, this battle is truly the most violent in Japan.
This site will show you the actual battleground of the Sekigahara battle. It is a wide area, and visitors will experience a nostalgic journey. In this site, visitors can go to the actual campsite of the Tokugawa and Ishida clan. They are the two sides who participated in the battle.
Visitors will see large monuments and flags of both clans. Visitors will also see the enclosed bamboo used for defense to stop a cavalry.
Since it is a wide area, the best way to make the most out of this experience is to ride a bicycle. You can rent one easily when you get there. Renting a bicycle will be easy for visitors to get around especially with a map provided with it. Handy right?
The journey does not just stop there. If you’re a fan of Japanese history, you can go and check the Sekigahara Town History and Folklore Museum. It displays information about the battle. The museum even featured the weapons and armors used by Samurai during the battle.
Top 4: Oishi Jinja (Shrine) in Ako
Who would forget the infamous tale of 47 Ronin of Japan? This tale of 47 loyal Samurai is one of the most famous story passed down from one generation to another. The tale of Samurai and their story of loyalty, bravery, and embodiment of Bushido.
Established in 1912, Oishi Jinja Shrine is built to pay tribute to the 47 loyal Samurai of Asano Naganori. Asano’s death left these warriors without a master. Making them a Ronin (masterless Samurai).
These 47 Samurai planned to avenge their master by assassinating Kira (Asano’s opponent). The 47 Samurai planned for 2 years, by pretending to be traders, monks and homeless. When the opportunity finally came, the 47 warriors attacked Kira’s mansion and cut off his head. After the incident, these Samurai commit Seppuku.
Buried in front of their master’s tomb, the Oishi-jinja shrine is in the quiet town of Ako within the Ako Castle Ruins, the castle where they all once served. The city celebrates the anniversary of the 47 Ronin every 14th of December.
As you enter and walk down the path of the shrine, you will see the statues of the 47 Ronin. This will give you the opportunity to have a closer look at all the statues of these brave warriors. It will also give you the chance to experience an important history and a humbling tale of a Samurai. Also, artifacts that belong to the 47 Ronin are in the museum.
Top 3: Kakunodate Samurai Village
Next on the list is also a must-see location in Japan for Samurai enthusiasts. The Kakunodate Samurai village in Akita. This location is famous for its well-preserved Samurai houses. It’s also famous for its mesmerizing cherries scattered along Bukeyashi street.
Kakunodate Samurai village experience will travel you back in time. This village was once home to 80 families. It caters beautiful Samurai architecture and housing of ancient Japan. This interesting site shows a glimpse of the lifestyle and traditions of a Samurai. Even today, these houses and great architecture are still unchanged since 1620.
There are about six Samurai houses open to the public. It offers its visitors the chance to see firsthand how Samurai warriors have lived in the past. Their actual clothes, swords, and belongings can be seen firsthand.
The Kakunodate village journey won’t be complete without visiting the street of Bukeyashi. You have to experience and appreciate its absolute beauty, with the enchanting cherry trees shading its street.
For individuals who love walking, this is a great place for you. You will find leisure in walking the streets of this village. Its charming historical attractions will take you back in time.
Top 2: Koyasan Okunoin
Are you up for a different experience? A serene eerie journey? If the answer is yes, Okunoin cemetery is the perfect location for you.
Okunoin cemetery is Japan’s largest cemetery. Located at Mount Koyasan, it is the birthplace of Shingon Buddhism in Japan. With over 900-year-old history, this location is the most sacred place in Japan. It is also the most famous pilgrimage spot in the country.
There are famous personalities buried in this site. One of which are monks, feudal lords and thousands of Samurai warriors.
Okunoin cemetery is a peaceful beautiful place. It has statues of Buddha and high pine old trees. Legend says, there are no dead in Okunoin; only waiting spirits. It’s also believed that its founder Kobo Daishi is resting in eternal meditation.
As you enjoy your walk in the cemetery, you will come across thousands of tombs and headstones. This is a humbling serene experience for everyone.
As you make your way through the cemetery, you will approach the famous mausoleum of Kobo Daishi. A few reminders to the visitors, as a sign of respect, food, and drinks, as well as taking photos, are not allowed inside. Visitors should also bow in respect to Kobo Daishi too.
Okunoin cemetery also offers a night trip experience. Good news for ghost fans and supernatural fans out there: this place won’t fail you for its eerie yet peaceful feeling at night. If you want something different for a change, Okunoin cemetery is the one for you.
Top 1: Osaka Castle
If you are a Samurai enthusiast and like history so much, Osaka castle should be on your bucket list. This Castle lies at the heart of the city of Osaka.
This historic location is not just a Castle. It is more of a symbol of the Toyotomi Clan’s power and influence. Osaka Castle has a historic relevance to Japan. The infamous Osaka Siege took place in this location.
Osaka castle was originally built in 1583. Unfortunately, Tokugawa Ieyasu’s warriors attacked and destroyed it during the siege of Osaka. The siege began when Ieyasu led thousands of Samurai men to attack the Osaka Castle and destroy it.
This popular tourist spot in Japan offers a lot of things to its visitors. In fact, the large part of the castle’s land became a spacious magnificent park that you can stroll around. If you like to go shopping and find yummy goods, there is an area in the park allotted just for it.
If you love entertainment, you will like the street performance in Osaka Park. Often times they also do free concerts on the ground, so if you’re lucky, you will get to experience this fun in Osaka.
And there you have it! Your top 6 must-see Samurai locations in Japan. Make sure to put these on your bucket- list!